When Your Employer is also Law Maker

  • 23 January 2015
Josh Frydenberg wants political rights abolished for govt employees

Hot on the heels of the recent Victorian State Election both the New South Wales and Queensland Governments will hold elections early in 2015.  

State Governments (Crowns) are in a unique position under our Federation as they are both an employer and a legislator  This dual role is unique and provides a power to the Government that no other Employer across Australia has. 

Employees of Government are witnessing a growing hostility towards them as their Employer shows a preparedness to use their legislature role to disadvantage their employees. 

NSW recently used Appropriation Bills to lock in policy positions that had been successfully challenged by our NSW Branch of the union. 

The previous Napthine Government in Victoria used the implied limitations of the Constitution to challenge the jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission in dealing with matters not referred from the transfer of State industrial relations powers in 1997.  The recently elected Andrews Labor Government has committed to refer these residual matters to the Commonwealth so the public sector in Victoria has the same rights as employees in the private sector.
Tasmania has recently determined it will pass legislation to set aside an employment contract and Agreements in order to strike down the wage increase and set it at 0%.  Western Australia, NSW and Tasmania have all legislated to restrict the jurisdiction of their state tribunals to only accepting Government policy in relation to the wages outcome allowed.

Our union is preparing an ILO Complaint on the constraints being placed by our Employer on bargaining in NSW.  Australia has never ratified the ILO convention that relates to Public Sector bargaining as it would apply to itself as an employer and hinder its behaviour as a legislator.
The ILO Convention on bargaining is only applicable to private sector.

In a more recent and disturbing development, Federal Victorian Liberal MP and Tony Abbotts’ new Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, following the defeat of the Napthine government, publicly issued ‘10 Lessons to get the Liberals back on track’. 

Mr Frydenberg seems to want a return to the days before the political rights bill of 1915 when government employees had no political rights, as number three of his ten lessons states; “challenge the right of partisan unionists to openly campaign in uniform against the sitting government.”  It’s the end of the world for Josh Frydenberg when Public employees, defending public services, identify themselves as such at polling booths.